BURLINGAME, Calif. — Protesters opposed to Donald Trump clashed with police outside a hotel here in the San Francisco Bay area Friday ahead of a speech by the Republican front-runner, escalating tensions as eggs were thrown at authorities and one group burned the billionaire in effigy.
"That was not the easiest entrance I've ever made," Trump said as he began his speech. "It felt like I was crossing the border, actually."
Before he arrived, protesters pushed toward the doors to the Hyatt Regency near the San Francisco airport, prompting police clad in riot gear to form a protective line. Trump supporters angrily chastised protesters on the line, who accused people attending the GOP convention of racism.
Friday marked the second time in as many days that a crowd of protesters squared off with authorities outside a Trump event here in California. Liberal activists and critics of the billionaire have flocked to his campaign events across the country to protest his hard-line stance on immigration and deportation, in addition to his controversial policy proposals such as a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States.
The frequency and intensity of anti-Trump protests had declined in recent weeks. But they flared Thursday evening during a campaign stop in Costa Mesa in Southern California.
While authorities demanded that protesters fall back in Burlingame on Friday, some demonstrators cursed at officers and scuffled as they sought to push back barricades. The protests remained largely peaceful, even as eggs were thrown at the heads of authorities. A steady drumbeat and chanting persisted throughout the hours-long demonstration.
The commotion was forceful enough to impact the real estate mogul's entrance. Live video footage streamed online and on cable news networks showed Trump's arrival and departure, in which he and his entourage walked over a small grassy patch along the side of the road to get to and from his car.
After briefly addressing the protest — his speech began about 45 minutes after he was scheduled to speak — Trump quickly pivoted from this travel route to the central themes of his campaign, including immigration reform and trade. He also touted a new poll saying he is ahead in Oregon and doted on positive media coverage.
Bullish that he will secure enough delegates to clinch the GOP nomination outright and avoid a contested convention in July, Trump also blasted his rivals for remaining in the race. He said that Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas "has no path to victory" and echoed previous insults about the way Ohio Gov. John Kasich eats. While he said Cruz's recent announcement of former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina as his vice-presidential pick could be a good move, he added that she "had no votes" before dropping out of the race.
"It's coming to an end," Trump said of the race for the Republican nomination. "There has to be unity in our party. There has to be unity."
As Trump spoke, protesters outside burned him in effigy on the street near the Hyatt, while others gathered for a drum circle. Several protesters waved Mexican flags and held signs that accused Trump of bigotry. "Get your hate out of my state," said one sign. Another compared Trump to Adolf Hitler, with the caption, "Trump = Nazi."
As he finished his speech, Trump joked that he would be taken "under a fence, through a field" to avoid the protesters. A crowd of GOP convention attendees watched live footage of Trump leaving the venue from the hotel bar; they erupted in cheers when he was finally seen entering his vehicle without encountering protesters.
In Orange County the day before, at least two police cars were vandalized and about 20 people arrested. Authorities said no serious injuries were reported, but at least one Trump supporter was seen with his face bloodied in a scuffle as he left the arena.
Berman reported from Washington.
[This is a developing story and has been updated.]